If you are injured in an automobile accident caused by someone else, you can recover money for damage to your car and your injuries. You may also be able to obtain money for pain and suffering. If a family member is injured or killed in an accident, you may have even more options. For example, you may be entitled to money to make up for your family member's absence from your life or for changes in your relationship with that person.
Normally, the money you get is about the same as your actual loss. For example, if your car was a total loss, you can receive an amount equal to the depreciated value of your car. For medical expenses, you can get the amount that it cost you to pay for those services and any future services. Money for pain and suffering is more complicated, as there is no way to assign a dollar value.
In a case involving a drunk driver, however, you may also be able to get punitive damages. As the name suggests, these damages are intended to punish the drunk driver. Still, such damages may only be awarded if the accident caused your injuries. So if a drunk driver's car malfunctioned and caused him to crash into your car, his intoxication may not be considered to have caused your injuries.
The amount of punitive damages varies depending on the facts of each case. Generally, payments range from half of the amount paid for other damages to as much as several times that amount. Courts have a lot of discretion in setting the amount of punitive damages.
Although you might think it would be easy to get punitive damages when the other driver was drunk, that is not always the case. You must have evidence that shows that the driver exhibited signs of being drunk. Erratic driving, slurred speech, and failure to obey traffic signals are examples of behavior that support a finding that a driver was drunk.
If you or a family member have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to money damages. We know the laws applicable to car accidents inside and out. We will work to get you a fair result. For a free evaluation, contact the experienced lawyers at Wright Pichon & Gray.